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A. Gallatin 









IT seems certain that Mexico must ultimately submit to such 
terms of peace as the United States shall dictate. An heteroge 
neous population of seven millions, with very limited resources. 
and no credit ; distracted by internal dissensions, and by the ambi 
tion of its chiefs, a prey by turns to anarchy and to military usur 
pers ; occupying among the nations of the civilized world, either 
physically or mentally, whether in political education, social state, 
or any other respect, but an inferior j^sLtjon ; cannot contend suc 
cessfully with an energetic, intelligent, enlightened and united na 
tion of twenty millions, possessed of unlimited resources and credit, 
and enjoying all the benefits of a regular, strong, and free govern 
ment. All this was anticipated ; but the extraordinary successes of 
the Americans have exceeded the most sanguine expectations. AH 
the advanced posts of the enemy | New Mexico, California, the line 
of the lower Rio Norte, and all the sea ports, which it was deemed 
necessary to occupy, have been subdued.^ And a small force, ap 
parently incompetent to the object, has penetrated near three hun 
dred miles into the interior, and is now in quiet possession of the 
far-famed metropolis of the Mexican dominions. The superior skill 
and talents of our distinguished generals, and the unparalleled 
bravery of our troops, have surmounted all obstacles. By whom 
soever commanded on either side ; however strong the positions 
and fortifications of the Mexicans, and with a tremendous nu 
merical superiority, there has not been a single engagement, in 
which they have not been completely defeated. The most re 
markable and unexpected feature of that warfare is, that volun 
teers, wholly undisciplined in every sense of the word, have vied in 
devotedness and bravery with the regular forces, and have proved 
themselves, in every instance, superior in the open field to the best 
regular forces of Mexico. These forces are now annihilated or 
dispersed; and the Mexicans are reduced to a petty warfare of 
guerillas which, however annoying, cannot be productive of any 
important results. 

It is true, that these splendid successes have been purchased at 
a price far exceeding their value. It is true that, neither the glory 
of these military deeds, nor the ultimate utility of our conquests 

can compensate the lamentable loss of the many thousand valuable 
lives sacrificed in the field, of the still greater number who have 
met with an obscure death, or been disabled by disease and fatigue, 
ft is true that their relatives, their parents, their wives and children 
find no consolation, for the misery inflicted upon them, in the still 
greater losses experienced by the Mexicans. But if, disregarding 
private calamities and all the evils of a general nature, the neces 
sary consequences of this war, we revert solely to the relative 
position of the two countries, the impotence of the Mexicans and 
their total inability to continue the war, with any appearance of 
success, are still manifest. 

The question then occurs : What are the terms which the United 
States have a right to impose on Mexico ? All agree that it must 
be an " honorable peace ;" but the true meaning of this word must 
in the first place be ascertained. 

The notion, that anything can be truly honorable which is con 
trary to justice, will, as an abstract proposition, be repudiated by 
every citizen of the United States. Will any one dare to assert, 
/ that a peace can be honorable, which does not conform with jus 
tice ? 

There is no difficulty in discovering the principles by which the 
-elations between civilized and Christian nations should be reg- 
ula ^d, and the reciprocal duties which they owe to each other. 
These principles, these duties have long since been proclaimed ; and 
the true law of nations is nothing else than the conformity to the 
sublime precepts of the Gospel mobility, precepts equally applicable 
to the relations between man and man, and to the intercourse 
between nation and nation. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as 
thyself." " Love your enemies." " As you would that men should 
do to you, do ye also to them likewise." The sanctity of these 
commands is acknowledged, without a single exception, by every 
denomination of Christians, or of men professing to be such. The 
sceptical philosopher admits and admires the precept. To this 
holy rule we should inflexibly adhere when dictating the terms of 
peace. The UnitecUStates, though they have the power, have no 
right to impose terms inconsistent with justice. It would be a 
shameful dereliction of principle, on the part of those who were 
averse to the annexation of Texas, to countenance any attempt to 
claim an acquisition of territory, or other advantage, on account 
of the success of our arms. 


But in judging the acts of our Government, it must be admitted 
that statesmen think a conformity to these usages which con 
stitute the law of nations, not as it should be, but as it is practically, 
sufficient to justify their conduct. And by that inferior standard, 
those acts and our duties in relation to Mexico will be tested. 



The United States had, and continue to have, an indubitable 
right to demajidjyull^^ for any wrongs inflicted on our 

citizens by the Government of Mexico, in violation of treaties or 
of the acknowledged law of nations. The negotiations for satisfy 
ing those just demands, had been interrupted by the annexation 
of Texas. When an attempt was subsequently made to renew 
them, it was therefore just and proper, that both subjects should 
be discussed at the same time : and it is now absolutely necessary, 
that those just claims should be fully provided for, in any treaty 
of peace that may be concluded, and that the payment should be 
secured against any possible contingency. I take it for granted 
that no claims have been, or shall be sustained by our Govern 
ment, but such as are founded on treaties or the acknowledged 
law of nations. 

Whenever a nation becomes involved in war, the manifestoes, 
and every other public act issued for the purpose of justifying its 
conduct, always embrace every ground of complaint which can 
possibly be alleged. But admitting, that the refusal to satisfy the 
claims for indemnity of our citizens might have been a just cause 
of war, it is most certain, that those claims were not the cause of 
that in which we are now involved. 

It may be proper, in the first place, to observe, that the refusal 
of doing justice, in cases of this kind, or the long delays in providing 
for them, have not generally produced actual war. Almost always 
long protracted negotiations have been alone resorted to. This has 
been strikingly the case with the United States. Hhe claims of 
Great Britain for British debts, secured by the treaty of 1783, were 
not settled and paid till the year 1803 ; and it was only subsequent 
to that year, that the claims of the United States, for depredations 

committed in 1793, were satisfied. The very plain question of 
slaves, carried away by the British forces in 1815, in open viola 
tion of the treaty of 1814, was not settled and the indemnity paid 
till the year 1826. The claims against France for depredations, 
committed in the years 1806 to 1813, were not settled and paid 
for till the year 1834. In all those cases, peace was preserved by 
patience and forbearance. 

With respect to the Mexican indemnities, the subject had been 
laid more than once before Congress, not without suggestions that 
strong measures should be resorted to. But Congress, in whom 
alone is vested the power of declaring war, uniformly declined 
doing it. 

A convention was entered into on the llth of April, 1839, be 
tween the United States and Mexico, by virtue of which a joint 
commission was appointed for the examination and settlement of 
those claims. The powers of the Commissioners terminated, ac 
cording to the convention, in February, 1842. The total amount 
of the American claims, presented to the commission, amounted to 
6,291,605 dollars. Of these, 2,026,140 dollars were allowed by the 
commission ; a further sum of 928,628 dollars was allowed by the 
commissioners of the United States, rejected by the Mexican com 
missioners, and left undecided by the umpire, and claims amount 
ing to 3,336,837 dollars had not been examined. 

A new convention, dated January 30, 1843, granted to the Mex 
icans a further delay for the payment of the claims which had beer- 
admitted, by virtue of which the interest due to the claimants was 
made payable on the 30th April, 1843, and the principal of the 
awards, and the interest accruing thereon, was stipulated to be 
paid in five years, in twenty equal instalments every three months. 
The claimants received the interest due on the 30th April, 1843, 
and the three first instalments. The agent of the United States 
having, under peculiar circumstances, given a receipt for the in- 
Nfahnents due in April and July, 1844, before they had been actu 
ally paid by Mexico, the payment has been assumed by the United 
States and discharged to the claimants. 

A third convention was concluded at Mexico on the 20th No 
vember, 1843, by the Plenipotentiaries of the two Governments, by 
which provision was made for ascertaining and paying the claims, 
on which no final decision had been made. In January, 1844, this 
convention was ratified by the Senate of the United States, with 


two amendments, which were referred to the Government of 
Mexico, but respecting which no answer has ever been made. On 
the 12th of April, 1844, a treaty was concluded by the President . 
with Texas, for the annexation of that republic to the United 
States. This treaty, though not ratified by the Senate, placed the 
two countries in a new position, and arrested for a while all nego 
tiations. It was only on the 1st of March, 1845, that Congress 
passed a joint resolution for the annexation. 

It appears most clearly, that the United States are justly entitled 
to a full indemnity for the injuries done to their citizens ; that, be 
fore the annexation of Texas, there was every prospect of securing 
that indemnity ; and that those injuries, even if they had been a 
just cause for war, were in no shape whatever the cause of that 
in which we are now involved. 

Are the United States justly entitled to indemnity for any other 
cause ? This question cannot be otherwise solved, than by an in 
quiry into the facts, and ascertaining by whom, and how, the war 
was provoked. 


At the time when the annexation of Texas took place, Texas 
had been recognized as an independent power, both by the United 
States and by several of the principal European powers ; but its 
independence had not been recognized by Mexico, and the two 
contending parties continued to be at war. Under those circum 
stances, there is not the slightest doubt that the annexation of Texas 
was tantamount to a declaration of war against Mexico. Nothing 
can be more clear and undeniable than that, whenever two nations 
are at war, if a third Power shall enter into a treaty of alliance, 
offensive and defensive, with either of the belligerents, and if such 
treaty is not contingent, and is to take effect immediately and 
pending the war, such treaty is a declaration of war against the 
other party. The causes of the war between the two belligerents 
do not alter the fact. Supposing that the third party, the inter 
fering Power, should have concluded the treaty of alliance with 
that belligerent who was clearly engaged in a most just war, the 
treaty would not be the less a declaration of war against the other 


If Great Britain and France were at war, and the United States 
were to enter into such a treaty with either, can there be the 
slightest doubt that this would be actual war against the other 
party ? that it would be considered as such, and that it must have 
been intended for that purpose ? If at this moment, either France 
or England were to make such a treaty with Mexico, thereby 
binding themselves to defend and protect it with all their forces 
against any other Power whatever, would not the United States 
instantaneously view such a treaty as a declaration of war, and 
act accordingly ? 

But the annexation of Texas, by the United States, was even 
more than a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance. It em 
braced all the conditions and all the duties growing out of the 
alliance ; and it imposed them forever. From the moment when 
Texas had been annexed, the United States became bound to pro 
tect and defend her, so far as her legitimate boundaries extended, 
against any invasion, or attack, on the part of Mexico : and they 
have uniformly acted accordingly. 

There is no impartial publicist that will not acknowledge the 
indubitable truth of these positions : it appears to me impossible, 
that they should be seriously denied by a single person. 

It appears that Mexico was at that time disposed to acknowledge 
the independence of Texas, but on the express condition, that it 
should not be annexed to the United States ; and it has been sug 
gested, that this was done under the influence of some European 
Powers. Whether this last assertion be true or not, is not known 
to me. But the condition was remarkable and offensive. 

Under an apprehension that Texas might be tempted to accept 
the terms proposed, the Government of the United States may 
have deemed it expedient to defeat the plan, by offering that annex 
ation, which had been formerly declined, when the Government 
of Texas was anxious for it. 

It may be admitted that, whether independent or annexed to 
the United States, Texas must be a slave-holding state, so long as 
slavery shall continue to exist in North America. Its whole pop 
ulation, with hardly any exception, consisted of citizens of the 
United States. Both for that reason, and on account of its geo 
graphical position, it was much more natural, that Texas should 
be a member of the United States, than of the Mexican Con 
federation. Viewed purely as a question of expediency, the an- 

nexation might be considered as beneficial to both parties. But 
expediency is not justice. Mexico and Texas had a perfect right 
to adjust their differences and make peace, on any terms they 
might deem proper. The anxiety to prevent this result indicated 
a previous disposition ultimately to occupy Texas: and when the 
annexation was accomplished ; when it was seen, that the United 
States had appropriated to themselves all the advantages resulting 
from the American settlements in Texas, and from their subsequent 
insurrection ; the purity of the motives of our Government be 
came open to suspicion. 

Setting aside the justice of the proceeding, it is true that it had 
been anticipated, by those who took an active part in the annex 
ation, that the weakness of Mexico would compel it to yield, or at 
least induce her not to resort to actual war. This was verified by 
the fact : and had Government remained in the hands with whom 
the plan originated, war might probably have been avoided. But 
when no longer in power, they could neither regulate the impulse 
they had given, nor control the reckless spirits they had evoked. 

Mexico, sensible of her weakness, declined war, and only resorted 
to a suspension of diplomatic intercourse ; but a profound sense of 
the injury inflicted by the United States has ever since rankled in 
their minds. It will be found, through all their diplomatic corres 
pondence, through all their manifestoes, that the Mexicans, even to 
this day, perpetually recur to this never-forgotten offensive measure. 
And, on the other hand, the subsequent administration of our Gov 
ernment seems to have altogether forgotten this primary act of in 
justice, and, in their negotiations, to have acted as if this was only 
an accomplished fact, and had been a matter of course. 


In September, 1845, the President of the United States directed 
their consul at Mexico to ascertain from the Mexican Government, 
whether it would receive an Envoy from the United States, in 
trusted with full power to adjust all the questions in dispute between 
the two Governments. 

The answer of Mr. De la Pena y Pena, Minister of the Foreign 
Relations of Mexico, was, " That although the Mexican nation was 


deeply injured by the United States, through the acts committed by 
them in the department of Texas, which belongs to his nation, his 
Government was disposed to receive the Commissioner of the United 
States who might come to the capital, with full powers from his 
Government to settle the present dispute in a peaceful, reasonable 
and honorable manner ;" thus giving a new proof that, even in the 
midst of its injuries and of its firm decision to exact adequte repa 
ration for them, the Government of Mexico does not reply with 
contumely to the measures of reason and peace to which it was 
invited by its adversary. 

The Mexican Minister at the same time intimated, that the pre 
vious recall of the whole Naval force of the United States, then 
lying in sight of the port of Vera Cruz, was indispensable ; and this 
was accordingly done by our Government. 

But it is essential to observe that, whilst Mr. Black had, accord 
ing to his instructions, inquired, whether the Mexican Government 
would receive an Envoy from the United States, with full power 
to adjust all the questions in dispute between the two Governments, 
the Mexican Minister had answered, that his Government was dis 
posed to receive the Commissioner of the United States, who might 
come with full powers to settle the present dispute in a peaceful, 
reasonable and honorable manner. 

Mr. Slidell was, in November following, appointed Envoy Ex 
traordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of 
America near the Government of the Mexican Republic ; and he 
arrived in Mexico on the sixth of December. 

Mr. Herrera, the President of Mexico, was undoubtedly disposed 
to settle the disputes between the two countries. But taking ad 
vantage of the irritation of the mass of the people, his political op 
ponents were attempting to overset him for having made, as they 
said, unworthy concessions. The arrival of Mr. Slidell disturbed 
him extremely ; and Mr. Pena y Pena declared to Mr. Black, that 
his appearance in the capital at this time might prove destructive 
to the Government, and thus defeat the whole affair. Under these 
circumstances General Herrera complained, without any founda 
tion, that Mr. Slidell had come sooner than had been understood ; 
he resorted to several frivolous objections against the tenor of his 
powers; and he intimated that the difficulties respecting Texas 
must be adjusted before any other subject of discussion should be 
taken into consideration. 


But the main question was, whether Mexico should receive Mr. 
Slidell in the character of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Pleni 
potentiary, to reside in the republic. It was insisted by the Mex 
ican Government, that it had only agreed to receive a commissioner, 
to_Jreat on the questions which had arisen from the events in 
Texas ; and that until this was done, the suspended diplomatic in 
tercourse could not be restored, and a residing minister plenipo 
tentiary be admitted. 

Why our Government should have insisted, that the intended 
negotiation should be carried on by a residing Envoy Extraordinary 
and Minister Plenipotentiary, is altogether unintelligible. The ques 
tions at issue might have been discussed and settled as easily, fully 
and satisfactorily, by commissioners appointed for that special 
purpose, as by residing ministers or envoys. It is well known that 
whenever diplomatic relations have been superseded by war, trea 
ties of peace are always negotiated by commissioners appointed 
for that special purpose, who are personally amply protected by 
the law of nations, but who are never received as resident minis 
ters, till after the peace has restored the ordinary diplomatic inter 
course. Thus the treaty of peace of 1783, between France and 
England, was negotiated and concluded at Paris by British com 
missioners, whom it would have been deemed absurd to admit as 
resident envoys or ministers, before peace had been made. 

The only distinction which can possibly be made between the 
two cases is, that there was not as yet actual war between 'Mexico 
and the United States. But the annexation of Texas was no 
ordinary occurrence. It was a most clear act of unprovoked 
aggression ; a deep and most offensive injury ; in fact, a declara 
tion of war, if Mexico had accepted it as such. In lieu of this-, 
that country had only resorted to a suspension of the ordinary 
diplomatic relations. It would seem as if our Government had 
considered this as an act of unparalleled audacity, which Mexico 
must be compelled to retract, before any negotiations for the ar 
rangement of existing difficulties could take place ; as an insult to 
the Government and to the nation, which must compel it to assert 
its just rights and to avenge its injured honor. 

General Herrera was not mistaken in his anticipations. His 
government was overset in the latter end of the month of Decem 
ber, 1845, and fell into the hands of those who had denounced him 


for having listened to overtures of an arrangement of the difficul 
ties between the two nations. 

When Mexico felt its inability to contend with the United 
States ; and, instead of considering the annexation of Texas to be, 
as it really was, tantamount to a declaration of war, only sus 
pended the ordinary diplomatic relations between the two coun 
tries, its Government, if directed by wise counsels, and not im 
peded by popular irritation, should at once, since it had already 
agreed to recognize the independence of Texas, have entered into 
a negotiation with the United States. At that time there would 
have been no intrinsic difficulty in making a final arrangement^ 
founded on an unconditional recognition of the independence of 
Texas, within its legitimate boundaries. Popular feeling and the 
ambition of contending military leaders, prevented that peaceable 
termination of those unfortunate dissensions. 

Yet, when Mexico refused to receive Mr. Slidell as an Envoy 
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, the United States 
should have remembered, that w.e iiad been the aggressors, that 
we had committed an act acknowledged, as well by the practical 
law of nations, as by common sense and common justice, to be 
tantamount to a declaration of war ; and they should have waited 
with patience, till the feelings excited by our own conduct had 

General Taylor had been instructed by the War Department, as 
early as May 28, 1845, to cause the forces under his command to 
be put into a position where they might most promptly and effici 
ently act in defence of Texas, in the event that it should become 
necessary or proper to employ them for that purpose. By subse 
quent instructions, and after the people of Texas had accepted the 
proposition of annexation, he was directed to select and occupy a 
position adapted to repel invasion, as near the boundary line, the 
Rio Grande, as prudence would dictate ; and that, with this view, 
a part of his forces at least should be west of the river Nueces. 
It was certainly the duty of the President to protect Texas against 
invasion, from the moment it had been annexed to the United 
States; and as that republic was in actual possession of Corpus 
Christi, which was the position selected by General Taylor, there 
was nothing, in the position he had taken, indicative of any danger 
of actual hostilities. 

But our Government seems to have considered the refusal, on the 


part of Mexico, to receive Mr. Slidell as a resident Envoy of the 
United States, as necessarily leading to war. The Secretary of 
State, in his letter to Mr. Slidell of January 28, 1846, says : 
" Should the Mexican Government finally refuse to receive you, 
the cup of forbearance will then have been exhausted. Nothing 
can remain but to take the redress of the injuries to our citizens, 
and the insults to our Government, into our own hands." And 
again, " Should the Mexican Government finally refuse to receive 
you, then demand passports from the proper authority, and return 
to the United States. It will then become the duty of the Presi 
dent to submit the whole case to Congress, and call upon the nation 
to assert its just rights, and avenge its injured honor." 

With the same object in view, the Secretary of War did, by his 
letter dated January 13, 1846, instruct General Taylor "to ad 
vance and occupy, with the troops under his command, positions 
on or near the east bank of the Rio del Norte It is pre 
sumed Point Isabel will be considered by you an eligible position. 
This point, or some one near it, and points opposite Matamoras 
and Mier, and in the vicinity of Laredo, are suggested for your 

consideration Should you attempt to exercise the right, 

which the United States have in common with Mexico, to the free 
navigation of this river, it is probable that Mexico would interpose 
resistance. You will not attempt to enforce this right without 
further instructions It is not designed, in our present re 
lations with Mexico, that you should treat her as an enemy ; but, 
should she assume that character by a declaration of war, or any 
open act of hostility towards us, you will not act merely on the 
defensive if your relative means enable you to do otherwise." 

The administration was therefore of opinion, that this military 
occupation of the territory in question was not an act of hostility, 
towards Mexico, or treating her as an enemy. Now, I do aver, 
without fear of contradiction, that whenever a .territory claimed 
by two powers is, and has been for a length of time in the posses 
sion of one of them, if the other should invade and take possession 
of it by a military force, such an acljs a ^p^a^cjt^ofjbpjtility 
according to the acknowledged and practical law of nations. In 
this case the law of nations only recognizes a clear and positive 

The sequel is well known. General Taylor, with his troops, left 
Corpus Christi, March 8th__to llth, 1846, and entered the desert 


which separates that place from the vicinity of the del Norte. 
On the 21st he was encamped three miles south of the Arroyo, or 
Little Colorado, having by the route he took marched 135 miles, 
and being nearly north of Matamoras about thirty miles distant. 
He had on the 19th met a party of irregular Mexican cavalry, 
who informed him that they had peremptory orders, if he passed 
the river, to fire upon his troops, and that it would be considered 
a declaration of war. The river was however crossed without a 
single shot having been fired. In a proclamation issued on the 
12th, General Mejia, who commanded the forces of the Depart 
ment of Tamaulipas, asserts, that the limits of Texas are certain 
and recognized, and never had extended beyond the river Nueces, 
that the cabinet of the United States coveted the regions on the 
left bank of the Rio Bravo, and that the American army was now 
advancing to take possession of a large part of Tamaulipas. On 
the 24th March General Taylor reached a point on the route from 
Matamoras to Point Isabel, eighteen miles from the former, and 
ten from the latter place, where a deputation sent him a formal 
Protest of the Prefect of the Northern District of the Department 
of Tamaulipas, declaring, in behalf of the citizens of the district, 
that they never will consent to separate themselves from the Mex 
ican Republic, and to unite themselves with the United States. 
On the 12th of April, the Mexican General, Ampudia, required 
General Taylor to break up his camp within twenty-four hours, 
and to retire to the other bank of the Nueces river, and notified 
him that, if he insisted in remaining upon the soil of the Depart 
ment of Tamaulipas, it would clearly result that arms alone must 
decide the question ; in which case, he declared that the Mexicans 
would accept the war to which they had been provoked. On the 
24th of April, General Arista arrived in Matamoras, and on the 
same day, informed General Taylor, that he considered hostilities 
commenced, and would prosecute them. On the same day, a 
party of sixty-three American dragoons, who had been sent some 
distance up the left bank of the river, became engaged with a very 
large force of the enemy, and after a short affair, in which about 
sixteen were killed or wounded, were surrounded and compelled 
to surrender. These facts were laid before Congress by the 
President in his message, of the llth of May. 



From what precedes it appears, that the Government of the 
United States considered the refusal of Mexico to receive a resi 
dent Envoy, or minister as a sufficient cause for war ; and the Rio 
del Norte as the legitimate boundary of Texas. The first opinion 
is now of no importance ; but the question of boundary, which 
was the immediate cause of hostilities, has to this day been the 
greatest impediment to the restoration of peace. I feel satisfied, 
that if this was settled, there would be no insuperable difficulty in 
arranging other pretensions. 

The United States claim no other portion of the Mexican do 
minions, unless it be by right of conquest. The tract of country 
between the RloJ^uecesj^ is the only one, which 

has been claimed by both parties, as respectively belonging either 
to Texas or to Mexico. As regards every other part of the Mex 
ican possessions, the United States never had claimed any portion 
of it. The iniquity of acquiring any portion of it, otherwise than 
by fair compact freely consented to by Mexico, is self-evident. It 
is, in every respect, most important to examine the grounds on 
which the claim of the United States to the only territory claimed 
by both nations is founded. It is the main question at issue. 

The Republic of Texas did, by an act of I^gember 1836, de 
clare the Rio del Norte to be its boundary. It wiTTnot feTseriously 
contended, that a nation has a right, by a law of its own, to deter 
mine what is or shall be the boundary between it and another 
country. The act was nothing more than the expression of 
the wishes or pretensions of the Government. Its only practical 
effect was that, emanating from its Congress or legislative body, it 
made it imperative on the Executive, not to conclude any peace 
with Mexico, unless that boundary was agreed to. As regards 
right, the act of Texas is a perfect nullity. We want the argu 
ments and documents by which the claim is sustained. 

On a first view the pretension is truly startling. There is no 
exception : the Rio Norte from its source to its mouth is declared 
to be the rightful boundary of Texas. That river has its source 


within the department, province, or state of New Mexico, which 
it traverses through its whole length from north to south, dividing 
it into two unequal parts. The lai gest and most populous, including 
Santa Fe, the capital, lies on the left bank of the river, and is 
therefore embraced within the claim of Texas. Now this prov 
ince of New Mexico was first visited and occupied by the Spaniards 
under Vasquez Coronado, in the years 1540 to 1542. It was at 
that time voluntarily evacuated, subsequently re-visited, and some 
settlements made about the year 1583: finally conquered in 1595 
by the Spaniards, under the command of Onate. An insurrection 
of the Indians drove away the Spaniards in the year 1680. They 
re-entered it the ensuing year, and after a long resistance re-con 
quered it. This was an internal conflict with the Aborigines ; but 
as related to foreign powers, the sovereignty of the Spaniards over 
the territory was never called in question ; and it was, in express 
terms, made the western boundary of Louisiana in the Royal 
Charter of the French Government. 

The conquest of the province by Onate, took place five-and- 
twenty years prior to the landing of the Pilgrims in New England, 
and twelve years before any permanent settlement had been made 
in North America, on the shores of the Atlantic, by either Eng 
land, France, Holland, Sweden, or any other power, but that in 
Florida by Spain herself. 

I have in vain sought for any document, emanating from the 
Republic or State of Texas, for the purpose of sustaining its claim 
either to New Mexico or to the country bordering on the lower 
portion of the del Norte. The only official papers within my 
reach, in which the claim of Texas is sustained, are the President's 
messages of May 11 and Dec. 3rd, 1846 ; and these refer only to 
the country bordering on the lower part of the del Norte. The 
portion of the message of May llth, 1846, relating to that subject, 
is as follows : " Meantime Texas, by the final action of our Con 
gress, had become an integral part of our Union. The Congress 
of Texas, by its act of December 19, 1836, had declared the Rio 
del Norte to be the boundary of that republic. Its jurisdiction had 
been extended and exercised beyond the Nueces. The country 
between that river and the del Norte had been represented in the 
Congress and in the Convention of Texas ; had thus taken part in 
the act of annexation itself; and is now included within one of 
our congressional districts. Our own Congress had, moreover, 


with great unanimity, by the act appro veJ December 31, 1845, 
recognized the country beyond the Nueces as a part of our terri 
tory, by including it within our own revenue system ; and a rev 
enue officer, to reside within that district, has been appointed, by 
and with the advice and consent of the Senate. It became, there 
fore, of urgent necessity to provide for the defence of that portion 
of our country. Accordingly, on the 13th of January last, instruc 
tions were issued to the general in command of these troops to 
occupy the left bank of the del Norte 

The movement of the troops to the del Norte was made by the 
commanding general, under positive instructions to abstain from 
all aggressive acts towards Mexico or Mexican citizens, and to re 
gard the relations between that Republic and the United States as 
peaceful, unless she should declare war, or commit acts of hostility 
indicative of a state of war. He was specially directed to protect 
private property, and respect personal rights." 

In his annual message of jDejcemlgrJtJlS^B, the President states 
that Texas, as ceded to the United States by France in 1803, has 
been always claimed as extending west to the Rio Grande ; that 
this fact is established by declarations of our Government during 
Mr. Jefferson's and Mr. Monroe's administrations ; and that the 
Texas which was ceded to Spain by the Florida treaty of 1819, 
embraced all the country now claimed by the State of Texas be 
tween the Nueces and the Rio Grande. 

He then repeats the Acts of Texas with reference to their boun 
daries ; stating that " during a period of more than nine years, 
which intervened between the adoption of her constitution and 
her annexation as one of the States of our Union, Texas asserted 
and exercised many acts of sovereignty and jurisdiction over the 
territory and inhabitants west of the Nueces ; such as organizing 
and defining limits of counties extending to the Rio Grande ; es 
tablishing courts of justice, and extending her judicial system over 
the territory ; establishing also a custom-house, post-offices, a land- 
office, &c." 

The President designates by the name of Texas, the cession of 
Louisiana by France to the United States; and he again calls the 
territory ceded to Spain by the Florida treaty of 1819, the Texas, 
He intimates that the claim of the United States to the territory 
between the Sabine and the Rio Norte, was derived from the 
boundaries of Texas, and that by claiming as far west as this river. 


the United States did recognize that it was the boundary of the 
Texas. I really do not understand what is meant by this assertion. 

The United States claimed the Rio Norte as being the legitimate 
boundary of Louisiana, and not of Texas. Neither they nor France 
had ever .been in possession of the country beyond the Sabine. 
Spain had always held possession, and had divided the territory 
into provinces as she pleased. One of these was called Texas, and 
its boundaries had been designated and altered at her will. With 
these the United States had no concern. If their claim could be 
sustained, it must be by proving that Louisiana extended of right 
thus far. This had no connection with the boundaries which 
Spain might have assigned to her province of Texas. These 
might have extended beyond the Rio del Norte, or have been east 
of the Rio Nueces. There is not the slightest connection between 
the legitimate boundaries of Louisiana, and those of the Spanish 
province of Texas. The presumed identity is a mere supposition. 

It is not necessary to discuss the soundness of the pretensions 
to the Rio Norte, asserted by Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Monroe, since 
they were yielded in exchange of Florida and some other objects 
by the treaty of 1819 ; a treaty extremely popular at the time, and 
the execution of which was pressed with great zeal and perseve 

Whenever ultimately ceded to Mexico, that republic fixed its 
boundaries as it thought proper. Texas and Cohahuila were de 
clared to form a state ; andjhe Rio Nueces was made the boun 
dary of Texas. When Texas declared itself independent, it was 
the insurrection of only part of a state ; for Cohahuila remained 
united to Mexico. But the Rio Nueces was the boundary be 
tween the department of Texas and the state of Tamaulipas. The 
whole contested territory lies within the limits of Tamaulipas, 
J which never was, under the Mexican Government, connected in 
any shape with Texas. 

The question now under consideration is only that between the 
United States and Mexico ; and in that view of the subject, it is 
quite immaterial whether the acts of the United States emanated 
from Congress, or from the Executive. No act of either, recog 
nizing the country beyond the Nueces, as a part of the territory 
of the United States, can be alleged against Mexico, as a proof of 
their right to the country thus claimed. Any such act is only an 
assertion, a declaration, but not an argument sustaining the right. 


It is, however, proper to observe here, that the port of delivery 
west of the Nueces, erected by the act of Congress " To establish a 
collection district in the state of Texas," was at Corpus Christi, a 
place which was in the actual possession of that state. 

It must also be premised that, in the joint resolution for the an 
nexation of Texas, the question of the boundary between it and 
Mexico was expressly reserved, as one which should be settled by 
treaty between the United States and Mexico. 

The only arguments in the President's message, which sustain 
the right of Texas to territory beyond the Nueces, are contained 
in those passages, in which it is asserted, that the jurisdiction of 
Texas had been extended and exercised beyond the Nueces : that 
the country between that river and the del Norte had been repre 
sented in the Congress and Convention of Texas, had taken part 
in the annexation itself, and was now included within one of our 
congressional districts. 

But it is not stated in the President's message, how far beyond 
the Nueces, the jurisdiction of Texas had been extended, nor 
what part of the country between that river and the del Norte 
had been represented in the Congress and convention of Texas, 
and was then included within one of our congressional districts. 

Now the actual jurisdiction beyond the Nueces never extended 
farther than the adjacent settlement of San Patricio, consisting of 
about twenty families. That small district, though beyond the 
Nueces, was contiguous to, and in the actual possession of Texas. 
On this account it might be rightfully included within the limits, 
which we were bound to protect against Mexican invasion. 

But what was the country between this small settlement of San 
Patricio, or between Corpus Christi and the Rio del Norte, over 
which it might be supposed from the message, that the jurisdiction 
of Texas had been extended ; so as to be included within one of 
our congressional districts ? Here again, Texas had erected that 
small settlement into a county called San Patricio, and declared 
that this county extended to the Rio del Norte. This, like all 
other declaratory acts of the same kind, was only an assertion not 
affecting the question of right. The State of Texas might, with 
equal propriety, have declared that their boundary extended to the 
Sierra Madre or to the Pacific. The true question of right to 
any territory beyond the Mexican limits of the Department of 
Texas depends on the facts : By whom was the territory in 


question actually inhabited and occupied ? and had the inhabitants 
united with Texas in the insurrection against Mexico ? 

The whole country beyond the settlement of San Patricio and 
Corpus Christi, till within a few miles of the del Norte, is a per 
fect desert, one hundred and sixty miles wide by the route pursued 
by General Taylor, as stated by himself, and near one hundred 
and twenty miles in a straight line. 

The only settled part of it is along the left bank of the del 
Norte, and but a few miles in breadth. This belt was settled, in 
habited, and occupied exclusively by Mexicans. It included the 
town of J^rejdo ; and Mexico had a custom-house at Brazos, north 
of the mouth of the river. Till occupied by the American arms 
it had ever been, and was at the time when invaded by General 
Taylor, a part of the Department of Tamaulipas, and subject to 
the jurisdiction of the Prefect of the Northern District of that 

In the course of the war between Mexico and Texas, incursions 
had been occasionally made by each party into the territories of the 
other. A Mexican officer had, once or twice, obtained temporary 
occupation of San Antonio, within the limits of Texas ; and the 
Texans had on one occasion taken Loredo itself, and more than 
once had carried their arms, not only to the left bank of the del 
Nprte, but even beyond that river. In both cases the aggressive 
parties had been repulsed and expelled. The last Texan ex 
pedition of that kind took place in December, 1842, and termi 
nated in their defeat at Mier. 

That the country, adjacent to the left bank of the river, was ex 
clusively in the possession of the Mexicans, was well known to our 

When General Taylor marched to the del Norte, he issued an 
order (No. 30), translated into the Spanish, ordering all under his 
command, to observe with the most scrupulous respect the rights 
of all the inhabitants, \vho might be found in peaceful prosecution 
of their respective occupations, as well on the left as on the right 
side of the Rio Grande. No interference, he adds, will be allowed 
with the civil rights or religious privileges of the inhabitants. 

In June, 1845, General Taylor had been directed to select and 
occupy, on or near the Rio Grande del Norte, such a site as would 
be best adapted to repel invasion and to protect our Western bor- 


der. But on the 8th of July following, the Secretary of War (Mr. 
Marcy) addressed the following letter to him. 

" This Department is informed that Mexico has some military 
establishments on the East side of the Rio Grande, which are, and 
for some time have been, in the actual occupancy of her troops. 
In carrying out the instructions heretofore received, you will be 
careful to avoid any acts of aggression, unless an actual state of 
war should exist. The Mexican forces at the posts in their pos 
session, and which have been so, will not be disturbed as long as 
the relations of peace between the United States and Mexico con 

On the 30th July, 1845, the Secretary again addresses Gen. 
Taylor as follows : " You are expected to occupy, protect and de 
fend the territory of Texas, to the extent that it has been occupied 
by the people of Texas. The Rio Grande is claimed to be the 
boundary between the two countries, and up to this boundary you 
are to extend your protection, only excepting any posts on the 
Eastern side thereof, which are in the actual occupancy of Mexi 
can forces, or Mexican settlements, over which the Republic of 
Texas did not exercise jurisdiction at the period of annexation, or 
shortly before that event. It is expected, in selecting the estab 
lishment for your troops, you will approach as near the boundary 
line, the Rio Grande, as prudence will dictate. With this view, 
the President desires that your position, for a part of your forces at 
least, should be west of the River Nueces." 

The Mexican settlements, thus excepted, are not those over which 
Texas did not claim jurisdiction, but those on the East bank of the 
Rio Grande, over which Texas did not exercise jurisdiction at the 
period mentioned. The President had no authority to give up the 
boundary claimed by Texas ; but it is clear that at that time, when 
war was not contemplated, the Administration was of opinion that, 
till the question was definitively settled, the occupancy by the 
Mexicans of the territory adjacent the left bank of the del Norte 
ought not to be disturbed. Neither the subsequent refusal by 
Mexico to receive a residing Envoy, nor the successes of the Amer 
ican arms have affected the question of right. The claim of Texas, 
whether to New Mexico, or to the lower portion of the Rio Norte, 
was identically the same, as invalid and groundless in one case as 
in the other. Why a distinction has been made by the Executive 
has not been stated. The fact is that he has established a tempo- 


rary government for New Mexico, as a country conquered, and 
without any regard to the claim of Texas ; whilst, on the other 
hand, he has permitted that State to extend its jurisdiction over 
the country lying on the left bank of the del Norte, which, like 
New Mexico, had been conquered by the arms of the United 
States. Not a shadow of proof has been adduced to sustain the 
pretensions of Texas to that district ; and justice imperiously re 
quires that it should by the treaty of peace be restored to Mexico. 

It so happens that the boundary, which may be traced in con 
formity with this principle, is a natural one, and that, as a measure 
of expediency, none more eligible could have been devised. A 
desert of one hundred and twenty miles separate* the most South 
westerly ..Texan, settlements of Corpus Christi and San Patricio, 
from those of the Mexicans, on the left bank of the del Norte, 
than which no boundary could be devised, better calculated to pre 
vent collisions hereafter between the two nations. It will be suf 
ficient, for that purpose, to draw a nominal line through the desert, 
leaving all the waters that empty into the Rio Norte to Mexico, 
and all those that empty into the Rio Nueces to Texas, together 
with such other provisions, respecting fortifications and military 
posts, as may be necessary for the preservation of peace. 

The line of the Rio Norte is one, from which Mexico would be 
perpetually threatened, and from which their adjacent town on the 
eastern bank may be bombarded. Such an intolerable nuisance 
would perpetuate most hostile feelings. With such a narrow river 
as the Rio del Norte, arid with a joint right of navigation, repeated 
collisions would be unavoidable. 

Among these, when there was nothing but a fordable river to 
cross, slaves would perpetually escape from Texas : and where 
would be the remedy ? Are the United States prepared to impose 
by a treaty on Mexico, where slavery is unknown, the obligation to 
surrender fugitive slaves ? 

"X Mexico is greatly the weaker power, and requires a boundary, 
which will give her as much security as is practicable. It is not 
required, either for the preservation of peace, or for any other le 
gitimate purpose, that the United States should occupy a threat 
ening position. It cannot be rationally supposed, that Mexico will 
ever make an aggressive war against them ; and even in such 
case, the desert would protect them against an invasion. If a war 
should ever again take place between the two countries, the over- 


whelming superiority of the Navy of the United States will enable 
them to carry on their operations wherever they please. They 
would, within a month, re-occupy the left bank of the Rio Norte, 
and within a short time, effect a landing and carry the war to any 
quarter they pleased. 

Must the war be still prosecuted for an object of no intrinsic 
value, to which the United States have no legitimate right, which 
justice requires them to yield, and which even expediency does 
not require ? 


It is an indisputable fact, that the annexation of Texas, then at 
war with Mexico, was tantamount to a declaration of war, and 
that the comparative weakness of Mexico alone prevented its 
Government from considering it as such. 

Under these circumstances, it was evidently the duty of the 
United States to use every means to soothe and conciliate the 
Mexicans, and to wait with patience for an unconditional recogni 
tion of the independence of Texas, till the feelings excited by our 
aggression had subsided. 

It has been shown that after Mexico had resorted, as a substitute 
for war, to the harmless suspension of the ordinary diplomatic in 
tercourse, the attempt to make it retract that measure, before any 
negotiations for the restoration of harmony between the two coun 
tries should be entered into, was neither countenanced by the ac 
knowledged law of nations, nor necessary for any useful purpose, 
nor consistent with a proper and just sense of the relative position 
in which the aggressive measure of the United States had placed 
the two countries. But that the refusal of Mexico to submit to 
that additional contumely, should have been considered as an insult 
to the United States, betrays the pride of power, rather than a just 
sense of what is due to the true dignity and honor of this nation^ 

It has been demonstrated, that the republic of Texas had not a 
shadow of right to the territory adjacent to the left bank of the 
lower portion of the Rio Norte ; that though she claimed, she never 
had actually exercised jurisdiction over any portion of it ; that the 
Mexicans were the sole inhabitants, and in actual possession of that 


district ; that therefore its forcible occupation by the army of the 
United States was, according to the acknowledged law of nations, 
as well as in fact, aiL a^LaJLopen hostility and war: that the re 
sistance of the Mexicans to that invasion was legitimate ; and that 
therefore the war was unprovoked by them, and commenced by 
the United States. 

If any doubt should remain of the correctness of these state 
ments, let them be tested by the divine and undeniable precept, 
" Do unto others as you would be done by." 

If at this moment France was to contract a treaty of defensive 
and offensive alliance with Mexico, a treaty taking effect imme 
diately, and pending the war between the United' States and 
Mexico, and binding herself to defend it with all her forces against 
any and every other Power, would not the United States at once 
consider such a treaty as a declaration of war against them ? 

If, in lieu of declaring war against Great Britain, in the year 
1812, the United States had only suspended the ordinary diplomatic 
relations between the two countries ; and Great Britain had de 
clared that she would not enter into any negotiation for the settle 
ment of all the subjects of difference between the two countries, 
unless the United States should, as a preliminary condition, restore 
those relations ; would not this have been considered as a most in 
solent demand, and to which the United States never would submit ? 

If the United States were, and had been for more than a century, 
in possession of a tract of country, exclusively inhabited and gov 
erned by them, disturbed only by the occasional forays of an en 
emy ; would they not consider the forcible military invasion and 
occupation of such a district by a third Power, as open and un 
provoked war, commenced against them ? And could their resist 
ance to the invasion render them liable to the imputation of having 
themselves commenced the war ? 

Yet it would seem as if the splendid and almost romantic suc 
cesses of the American arms had, for a while, made the people of 
the United States deaf to any other consideration than an enthu 
siastic and exclusive love of military glory; as if, forgetting the 
Origin of the_war, and with an entire disregard for the dictates of 
justice, Ihey thought that those successes gave the nation a right 
A/to dismember Mexico, arid to appropriate to themselves that which 
did not belong to them. 

But I do not despair, for I have faith in our institutions and in 


the people ; and I will now ask them whether this was their mis 
sion ? and whether they were placed by Providence on this conti 
nent for the purpose of nultiv^jlng falsa glojy r and of sinking to 
he level of those vulgar conquerors who have at all times deso 
lated the earth. 


The people of the United States have been placed by Emvidence 
in a position never before enjoyed by any other nation. They are 
possessed of a most extensive territory, with a very fertile soil, a 
variety of climates and productions, and a capacity of sustaining 
a population greater, in proportion to its extent, than any other 
territory of the same size on the face of the globe. 

By a concourse of various circumstances, they found themselves, 
at the epoch of their independence, in the full enjoyment of relig 
ious, civil, and political liberty, entirely free from any hereditary 
monopoly of wealth or power. The people at large were in full 
and quiet possession of all those natural rights, for which the peo 
ple of other countries have for a long time contended, and still do 
contend. They were, and you still are the supreme sovereigns, 
acknowledged as such by all. For the proper exercise of these un 
controlled powers and privileges, you are responsible to posterity, 
to the world at large, and to the Almighty Being who has poured 
on you such unparalleled blessings. 

Youjrjriission is, to improve the state of the world, to be the 
" Model Republic," to show that men are capable of governing 
themselves, and that this simple and natural form of government is 
that also which confers most happiness on all, is productive of the 
greatest development of the intellectual faculties, above all, that 
which is attended with the highest standard of private and* political 
virtue and morality. 

Your forefathers, the founders of the Republic, imbued with a 
deep feeling of their rights and duties, did not deviate from those 
principles. The sound sense, the wisdom, the probity, the respect 
for public faith, with which the internal concerns of the nation 
were managed, made our institutions an object of general admira 
tion. Here, for the first time, was the experiment attempted with 



any prospect of success, and on a large scale, of a Representative 
Democratic Republic. If it failed, the last hope of the friends of 
mankind was lost or indefinitely postponed ; and the eyes of the 
world were turned towards you. Whenever real, or pretended ap 
prehensions of the imminent danger of trusting the people at large 
with power, were expressed, the answer ever was, " Look at Amer 

In their external relations the United States, before this unfor 
tunate war, had, whilst sustaining their just rights, ever acted in 
strict conformity with the dictates of justice, and displayed the ut 
most moderation. They never had voluntarily injured any other 
nation. Every acquisition of territory from Foreign Powers was 
honestly made, the result of Treaties, not imposed, but freely as 
sented to by the other party. The preservation of peace was ever 
a primary object. The recourse to arms was always in self defence. 
On its expediency there may have been a difference of opinion ; 
that, in the only two instances of conflict with civilized nations 
which occurred during a period of sixty three years, (1783 to 1846), 
the just rights of the United States had been invaded by a long con 
tinued series of aggressions, is undeniable. In the first instance, 
war was not declared ; and there were only partial hostilities be 
tween France and England. The Congress of the United States, 
the only legitimate organ of the nation for that purpose, did, in 
1812, declare war against Great Britain. Independent of depreda 
tions on our commerce, she had, for twenty years, carried on an 
actual war against the United States. I say, actual war, since 
there is now but one opinion on that subject ; a renewal of the 
impressment of men sailing under the protection of our flag would 
be tantamount to a declaration of war. The partial opposition to 
the war of 1812, did not rest on a denial of the aggressions of Eng 
land and of the justice of our cause, but on the fact that, with the 
exception of impressments, similar infractions of our just rights had 
been committed by France, and on the most erroneous belief, that 
the administration was partial to that country, and insincere in 
their apparent efforts to restore peace. 

At present, all these principles would seem to have been aban 
doned. The most just, a purely defensive war, and no other is 
justifiable, is necessarily attended with a train of great and una 
voidable evils. What shall we say of one, iniquitous in its origin, 


and provoked by ourselves, of a war of aggression, which is now 
publicly avowed to be one of intended conquest. 

> its necessary consequences will be, a permanent 

increase of our military establishment and of executive patronage : 
its general tendency, to make man hate man, to awaken his worst 
passions, to accustom him to the taste of blood. It has already de 
moralized no inconsiderable portion of the nation. 

The general peace, which has been preserved between the great 
European powers during the last thirty years, may not be ascribed 
to the purest motives. Be these what they may, this long and un 
usual repose has been most beneficial to the cause of humanity. 
Nothing can be more injurious to it, more lamentable, more scan 
dalous, than the war between two adjacent republics of North 

Your mission was, to be a model for all other governments and 
for all other less favored nations, to adhere to the most elevated 
principles of political morality, to apply all your faculties to the 
gradual improvement of your own institutions and social state, 
and, by your example, to exert a moral influence most beneficial 
to mankind at large. Instead of this, an appeal has been made to 
your worst passions ; to cupidity, to the thirst of unjust aggrandize 
ment by brutal force ; to the love of military fame and of false 
glory ; and it has even been tried to pervert the noblest feelings 
of your nature. The attempt is made to make you abandon the 
lofty position which your fathers occupied, to substitute for it the 
political morality and heathen patriotism of the heroes and states 
men of antiquity. 

I have said, that it was attempted to pervert even your virtues. 
Devotedness to country, or patriotism, is a most essential virtue, 
since the national existence of any society depends upon it. Un 
fortunately, our most virtuous dispositions are perverted, not only 
by our vices and selfishness, but also by their own excess. Even 
the most holy of our attributes, the religious feeling, may be per 
verted from that cause, as was but too lamentably exhibited in the 
persecutions, even unto death, of those who were deemed heretics. 
It is not, therefore, astonishing, that patriotism, carried to excess, 
should also be perverted. In the entire devotedness to their coun 
try, the people, everywhere and at all times, have been too apt to 
forget the duties imposed upon them by justice towards other na- 


tions. It is against this natural propensity that you should be 
specially on your guard. The blame does not attach to those who, 
led by their patriotic feelings, though erroneous, flock around the 
national standard. On the contrary, no men are more worthy of 
admiration, better entitled to the thanks of their country, than 
those who, after war has once taken place, actuated only by the 
purest motives, daily and with the utmost self-devotedness, brave 
death and stake their own lives in the conflict against the actual 
enemy. I must confess, that I do not extend the same charity to 
those civilians, who coolly and deliberately plunge the_ country into 
any unjust or unnecessary war. 

We should have but one conscience : and most happy would it 
be for mankind, were statesmen and politicians only as honest, in 
their management of the internal or external national concerns, as 
they are in private life. The irreproachable private character of 
the President, and of all the members of his administration, is 
known and respected. There is not one of them who would not 
spurn with indignation the most remote hint that, on similar pre- 
tences to those alleged for dismembering Mexico, he might be cap 
able of an attempt to oppropriate to himself his neighbor's farm. 

In the total absence of any argument that can justify the war in 
which we are now involved, resort has been had to a most extra 
ordinary assertion. It is said, that the people of the United States 
have an hereditary superiority of race over the Mexicans, which 
"' gives them the right to subjugate and keep in bondage the inferior 
nation. This, it is also alleged, will be the means of enlightening 
the degraded Mexicans, of improving their social state, and of ulti 
mately increasing the happiness of the masses. 

Is it compatible with the principle of Democracy, which rejects 
every hereditary claim of individuals, to admit an hereditary supe- 
Viority of races ? You very properly deny, that the son can, in 
dependent of his own merit, derive any right or privilege what 
ever, from the merit or any other social superiority of his father. 
Can you for a moment suppose, that a very doubtful descent from 
men, who lived one thousand years ago, has transmitted to you a 
superiority over your fellow-men ? But the Anglo-Saxons were 
inferior, la the Goths, from whom the Spaniards claim to be de 
scended ; and they were in no respect superior to the Franks and 
to the Burgundians. It is not to their Anglo-Saxon descent, but to 
a variety of causes, among which the subsequent mixture of 


Frenchified Normans, Angevins and Gascons must not be forgot 
ten, that the Eoglish^araJMeJ^ institutions. 
In the progressive improvement of mankind, much more has been 
due to religious and political institutions, than to races. When 
ever the European nations, which, from their language, are pre 
sumed to belong to the Latin or to the Sclavonian race, shall have 
conquered institutions similar to those of England, there will be no 
trace left of the pretended superiority of one of those races above 
the other. At this time, the claim is but a pretext for covering 
and justifying unjust usurpation and unbounded ambition. 

But admitting, with respect to Mexico, the superiority of race, 
this confers no superiority of rights. Among ourselves, the most 
ignorant, the most inferior, either in physical or mental faculties, is 
recognized as having equal rights, and he has an equal vote with 
any one, however superior to him in all those respects. This is 
founded on the immutable principle that no one man is born with 
the right of governing another man. He may, indeed, acquire a 
moral ; nfluence over others, and no other is legitimate. The same 
principle will apply to nations. However superior the Anglo- 
American race may be to that of Mexico, this gives the Americans 
no right to infringe upon the rights of the inferior race. The 
people of the United States may rightfully, and will, if they use 
the proper means, exercise a most beneficial moral influence over 
the Mexicans, and other less enlightened nations of America. Be 
yond this they have no right to go. 

The allegation that the subjugation of Mexico would be the 
means of enlightening the Mexicans, of improving their social 
state, and of increasing their happiness, is but the shallow attempt 
to disguise unbounded cupidity and ambition. Truth never was 
or can be propagated by fire, and sword, or by any other than 
purely moral means. By these, and by these alone, the Christian 
religion was propagated, and enabled, in less than three hundred 
years, to conquer idolatry. During the whole of that period, 
Christianity was tainted by no other blood than that of its martyrs. 

The duties of the people of the United States towards other 
nations are obvious. Never losing sight of the divine precept, 
o to others as you would be done by," they have only to con- 
suit their own conscience. For our benevolent Creator has im 
planted in the hearts of men the moral sense of right and wrong, 


and that sympathy for other men, the evidences of which are of 
daily occurrence. 

It seems unnecessary to add anything respecting that false glory 
which, from habit and the general tenor of our early education, we 
are taught to admire. The task has already been repeatedly per 
formed, in a far more able and impressive manner, than anything 
I could say on the subject. It is sufficient to say that, at this 
time, neither the. dignity or honor of the nation demand a further 
sacrifice of invaluable lives, or even of money. The very reverse 
is the case. The true honor and dignity of the nation are insepa 
rable from justice. Pride and vanity alone demand the sacrifice. 
Chough so dearly purchased, the astonishing successes of the 
American arms have at least put it in the power of the United 
States to grant any terms of peace, without incurring the imputa 
tion of being actuated by any but the most elevated motives. It 
would seem that the most proud and vain must be satiated with 
glory, and that the most reckless and bellicose should be sufficiently 
glutted with human gore. 

A more truly glorious termination of the war, a mor splendid 
spectacle, an example more highly useful to mankind at large, can 
not well be conceived, than that of the victorious forces of the 
United States voluntarily abandoning all their conquests, without 
requiring anything else than that which was strictly due to our 


I have said that the unfounded claim of Texas to the territory 
between the Nueces and the Rio Norte, was the greatest impedi 
ment to peace. Of this there can be no doubt. For if, relinquish 
ing the spirit of military conquest, nothing shall be required but 
the indemnities due to our citizens, the United States have only to 
accept the terms which have been offered by the Mexican Govern 
ment. It consents to yield a territory five degrees of latitude, or 
near 350 miles in breadth, and extending from New Mexico to the 
Pacific. Although the greater part of this is quite worthless, yet 
the portion of California lying between the Sierra Neveda and the 
Pacific, and including the port of San Francisco, is certainly worth 


much more than the amount of indemnities justly due to our citi 
zens. It is only in order to satisfy those claims, that an accession 
of territory may become necessary. 

It is not believed that the Executive will favor the wild sugges 
tions of a subjugation, or annexation of the whole of Mexico, or 
of. any of its interior provinces. And, if I understand the terms 
offered by Mr. Trist, there was no intention to include within 
the cessions required, the Province of New Mexico. But the de 
mand of both Old and New California, or of a sea-coast of more 
than thirteen hundred miles in length (lat. 23 to 42), is extrava 
gant and unnecessary. The Peninsula is altogether worthless, 
and there is nothing worth contending for South of San Diego, or 
about lat. 32. 

In saying that, if aaaquest is not the object of the war, and if 
the pretended claim of Texas to the Rio del Norte shall be aban 
doned, there cannot be any insuperable obstacle to the restoration 
of peace, it is by no means intended to assert that the terms here 
tofore proposed by either party are at this time proper. And I 
apprehend that the different views of the subject entertained by 
those who sincerely desire a speedy and just peace, may create 
some difficulty. There are some important considerations which 
may become the subject of subsequent arrangements. For the 
present, nothing more is strictly required than to adopt the prin 
ciple of status ante helium, or, in other words, to evacuate the 
Mexican territory, and to provide for the payment of the indem 
nities due to our citizens. The scruples of those who object to 
any cession whatever of territory, except on terms unacceptable 
to the Southern States, might be removed by a provision, that 
would only pledge a territory sufficient for the purpose, and leave 
it in the possession of the United States until the indemnities had 
been fully paid. 

Was I to listen exclusively to my own feelings and opinions, I 
would say, that, if the propositions which I have attempted to es 
tablish are correct ; if I am not mistaken in my sincere conviction, 
that the war was unprovoked by the Mexicans, and has been one 

1 J . ,:,., .- ...-"...,. " 

of jniguitous aggression^on^our^art ; it necessarily follows that, 
accordingTo tKe Hlctates of justice, the United States are bound to 
indemnify them, for having invaded their territory, bombarded their 
towns, and inflicted all the miseries of war on a people, who were 
in defence of their own homes. If all this be true, the 


United States would give but an inadequate compensation for the 
injuries they have inflicted, by assuming the payment of the indem 
nities justly due to their own citizens. 

Even if a fair purchase of territory should be convenient to both 
parties, it would be far preferable to postpone it for the present, 
among other reasons, in order that it should not have the appear 
ance of being imposed on Mexico. There are also some important 
considerations, to which it may not be improper to call at this time 
the public attention. 

Our population may at this time be assumed, as amounting to 
twenty millions. Although the ratio of natural increase has already 
been lessened, from thirty three to about thirty per cent, in ten 
years, the deficiency has been, and will probably continue, for a 
while, to be compensated by the prodigious increase of immigration 
from foreign countries. An increase of thirty per cent, would add 
to our population six millions, within ten, and near fourteen millions 
in twenty years. At the rate of only twenty five per cent, it will 
add five millions in ten, and more than eleven millions in twenty 
years. That the fertile uncultivated land, within the limits of the 
States admitted, or immediately admissible in the Union, could 
sustain three times that number is indubitable. But the indomita 
ble energy, the locomotive propensities, and all the habits of the 
settlers of new countries are such, that, not even the united efforts 
of both Governments can or will prevent their occupying within 
twenty if not within ten years, every district, as far as the Pacific, 
and whether within the limits of the United States or of Mexico, 
which shall not have previously been actually and bonafide occu 
pied and settled by others. It may be said that this is justifiable by 
Natural Law ; that, for the same reason, which sets aside the right 
of discovery, if not followed by actual occupation within a reason 
able time, the rights of Spain and Mexico have been forfeited by 
their neglect, or inability, during a period of three hundred years, to 
colonize a country, which, during the whole of that period, they held 
undisputed by any other foreign nation. And it may perhaps be 
observed that, had the Government of the United States waited for 
the operation of natural and irresistible causes, these alone would 
have given them, without a war, more than they want at this mo 

However plausible all this may appear, it is nevertheless certain, 
that it will be an acquisition of territory for the benefit of the peo- 


pie of the United States, and insolation of solemn treaties. Not 
only collisions must be avoided, and the renewal of another illicit 
annexation be prevented ; but the two countries must coolly con 
sider their relative position ; and whatever portion of territory, not 
actually settled by the Mexicans, and of no real utility to them, 
they may be disposed to cede, must be acquired by a treaty freely 
assented to, and for a reasonable compensation. But this is not the 
time for the discussion of a proper final arrangement. We must 
wait till peace shall have been restored, and angry feelings shall 
have . jsubsidecT St present the only object is Peace, immediate 
peace, a just peace, and no acquisition of territory, but that which 
may be absolutely necessary for effecting the great object in view. 
The most simple terms, those which will only provide for the ad 
justment of the Texas boundary and for the payment of the indem 
nities due to our citizens, and, in every other respect, restore things 
as they stood before the beginning of hostilities, appear to me the 
most eligible. For that purpose I may be permitted to wish, that 
the discussion of the terms should not be embarrassed by the intro 
duction of any other matter. There are other considerations, 
highly important, and not foreign to the great question of an ex 
tension of territory, but which may, without any inconvenience or 
commitment, be postponed, and should not be permitted to impede 
the immediate termination of this lamentable war. 

I have gone farther than I intended. It is said that a rallying 
point is wanted by the friends of peace. Let them unite, boldly 
express their opinions, and use their utmost endeavors in promot 
ing an immediate termination of the war. For the people, no 
other banner is necessary. But their representatives in Congress 
assembled are alone competent to ascertain, alone vested with the 
legitimate power of deciding what course should be pursued at this 
momentous crisis, what are the best means for carrying into effect 
their own views, whatever these may be. We may wait with 
hope and confidence the result of their deliberations. 

I have tried, in this essay, to confine myself to the questions at 
issue between the United States and Mexico. Whether the Ex 
ecutive has, in any respect, exceeded his legitimate powers ; whether 
he is, for any of his acts, liable to animadversion, are questions 
which do not concern Mexico. 



There are certainly some doubtful assumptions of power, and 
some points on which explanations are necessary. The most im 
portant is the reason, which may have induced the President, 
when he considered the war as necessary and almost unavoidable, 
not to communicate to Congress, which was all that time in ses 
sion, the important steps he had taken, till after hostilities, and in 
deed actual war had taken place. The substitution, for war con 
tributions, of an arbitrary and varying tariff, appears to me to be 
of a doubtful nature ; and it is hoped, that the subject will attract 
the early attention of Congress. I am also clearly of opinion, that 
the provisions of the law respecting volunteers, which authorizes 
them to elect their officers, is a direct violation of the constitution 
of the United States, which recognizes no other land force than the 
army and the militia, and which vests in the President and Senate 
the exclusive power of appointing all the officers of the United 
States, whose appointments are not otherwise provided for in the 
constitution itself. (With respect to precedents, refer to the act 
of July 6th, 1812, chap. 461, (cxxxviii.) enacted with due delibe 
ration, and which repeals, in that respect, the act on same subject 
of February 6th, 1812.) 



DUE JAN 2 5 


DUE MAR i5 19711 

MAR 13 R 



Book Slip-50m-8,'69(N831s8)458-A-31/5 

N9 677637 


Gallatin, A. G169 
Peace with Mexico.